Disaster Resource Center at St. Mary Medical Center
St. Mary Medical Center (SMMC) is the governmental ASPER Grant funded Los Angeles County Disaster Resource Center for the greater Long Beach area. Disaster grant funding comes through the federal government through the Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Program.
All nine Long Beach area hospitals from Catalina Island to Lakewood are under the umbrella of the St. Mary Medical Center Disaster Resource Center. The DRC team meets with local hospitals monthly to discuss surge capacity, and other vital emergency preparedness issues and coordinates disaster drills with agencies throughout Long Beach.
St. Mary is unique in that we are the only Disaster Resource Center (DRC) that has an island, airport, and port in our area and the hospital staff takes its disaster training and education very seriously. Staff is encouraged to take free on-campus courses and train in disaster drills at least twice a year. Periodically throughout the year staff evacuate the hospital units, wear protective suits, learn about disaster equipment and drill with other community agencies.
What is the role of a Disaster Resource Center?
The St. Mary DRC is commissioned with the education of healthcare workers and encouraging community disaster participation, agency cooperation and team efforts for disaster preparedness in Long Beach. Bringing hospital workers, rescue teams and community agencies together to drill which prepares our collective staff to cooperate more efficiently during crisis. Community leadership and staff involvement in disaster training helps the Long Beach area be prepared for a disaster should one occur. Planning and coordinating community drills brings private and public sector agencies together in disaster management and mitigation efforts.
As the lead DRC for the Long Beach area, St. Mary’s role is to coordinate stockpiling of disaster equipment, pharmaceuticals and education/drills for healthcare workers on weapons of mass destruction and hospital decontamination of victims. St. Mary offers Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) training for first responders to teach the techniques for donning and wearing Level C suits and Purified Air Powered Respirator hoods.
A goal of the St. Mary DRC is to educate all involved participants on the necessity of Long Beach agencies functioning together during a disaster. Mock training events are a cooperative effort to drill multi-agency response teams. The DRC works closely in cooperation with the Long Beach Fire Department, L.A. County Fire, L.A. County EMS Agency, City of Long Beach Emergency Operations Command Center, City of Hawaiian Gardens, Long Beach Police Office of Counter Terrorism, HAM radio groups and the Long Beach Dept. of Health and Human Services to plan disaster management with these response units.
Disaster classes are offered free to St. Mary employees monthly by technical experts from all fields to train, demonstrate and assist staff in learning about their roles, specific disaster techniques and equipment. All classes are open and free to the community and are taught to the Senior Center, Neighborhood Resource Center and other faith based and community agencies. Classes on Hospital Incident Command Systems (HICS), Decontamination, Chemical Biological Radiological and Explosives (CBRNE) and START Triage highlight the robust disaster calendar at St. Mary Medical Center.
For more information about the St. Mary Medical Center Disaster Resource Center, please email Kathy.Dollarhide@dignityhealth.org or call 562.491.4870.
Kathy Dollarhide talks about Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness